Last week, along with 500 SME business directors and entrepreneurs, I signed a letter campaigning to scrap the higher rate of tax.
As a result, I appeared on numerous media outlets – from the BBC’s Daily Politics to Sky News – putting the case across for ditching the 50p tax rate.
While I hope the message resonated clearly with the Chancellor that this is a bad tax for business and the economy, what surprised me the most was some of the reaction that our campaign generated.
In some quarters, the entrepreneurs supporting this cut have been painted as the villains of the piece who are only in this to avoid tax. I want to emphatically say that is not the case and, to further reiterate my point, I believe in paying tax and am happy to keep doing so.
But it seems that the opposition to our campaign are those who don’t understand the nature of entrepreneurs and their continual drive to build, grow and develop businesses. We want the tax rate to be reduced to encourage more investment in business and more entrepreneurialism, not to line our pockets with cash.
It astounds me that we can celebrate an actor, sportsperson or reality TV “star” for rising up from obscurity to earn millions, but an entrepreneur is vilified for trying to make an honest quid?
What is it that makes a middle-aged entrepreneur a “hate figure”? I’m not naïve enough to think that all of society no longer sees business people as stereotypical fat cats or Gordon Gekko-clones, but, on the whole, we’re not just in this for ourselves.
Money, of course, is a driver, but entrepreneurs thrive on the thrill of doing business. Entrepreneurs don’t pack in work after making a success of a business. They start new enterprises or expand existing ones.
And most importantly, we make a more important contribution to society and the economy than someone on a reality show with high heels and a fake tan. Seriously, how many jobs, and therefore tax income for the Treasury, do celebs and sports stars directly create compared to entrepreneurial businesses?
I can’t see the Prime Minister standing at the Dispatch Box praising the cast of Geordie Shore for rescuing the economy.
Therefore, this country has to embrace entrepreneurs as positive role models and support the efforts they are making to create jobs and the part they have to play in the UK’s economic recovery.
Charlie Mullins is the founder of £16m-turnover Pimlico Plumbers.
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